« PreviousContinue »
thing but indeterminate common-place Notions; and patches together Shreds of Learning and Rhetorick which any one may fee were not made one for another. He never goes to the Bottom of Things, but stops in superficial Remarks, and ofttimes in false ones. He is not able to shew Truths in their proper Light, and full Extent; because all general Truths are necessarily connected among themselves : so that one must understand almost all of them, before he can treat judiciously of any one.
C. However many of our publick Speakers get Repute by those flight Attainments you
so inuch despise. A. It is true, they are applauded by Women and the undiscerning Multitude, who are easily dazld and impos’d on: but this Repute is very precarious ; and cou'd not subsist long if it were not supported by a Cabal of Acquaintance, and the Zeal or Humour of a Party. They who know the true End and * Rules of
Expression is the Dress of Thought, and fill
Mr. POPE's Essay on Criticism.
Eloquence, cannot hear such empty vain Haranguers without Satiety, Disgust, and Conteinpt.
C. It seeins then you wou'd have a Man wait feveral Years before he atteinpt to speak in publick : For the Flower of his Age must be spent in attaining that vaft Fund of Knowledge you reckon necessary to an Orator : and then he must be so far advanc'd in Years; that he will have but little Time to exert his Ta
A. I wou'd have him begin to exert them betimes : fur I know very well how great the Power of Action is. But under the Pretence of exercising his Parts, I wou'd not have him himself in any kind of Employment that will take off his Mind froin his Studies. A Youth may try his Skill, from time to time: but for several Years, a careful Pes rufal of the best Authors ought to be his main Business.
C. Your judicious Observation puts me in mind of a Preacher I am acquainted with ; who lives, as you say, froin land to mouth ; and never thinks of any Subject till he be obliged to treat of it : and then he shuts himself up in his Clofet, turns over his Concordance, Combefix and Polyant hea, his Collections of Sermons; and Common-place Book of separate Sen
tences and Quotations that he has gather'd together.
A. You cannot but perceive, Sir, that this Method will never make him an able judicious Preacher. In such Cases, a Man cannot talk with Strength and Clearness : he is not sure of any thing he says : nor doth any thing flow easily froin him. His whole Discourse has a borrow'd Air; and looks like an awkard Piece of Patch-work. Certainly those are inuch to be blam'd, who are so impatiently fond of showing their Parts.
B. Before you leave us, Sir, pray tell as what you reckon the chief Effect of Eloquence.
A. PLATO fays an Oration is so far eloquent as it affects the Hearer's Mind. By this Rule you may judge certainly of any
Discourse you hear. If an Harangue leave
cold and languid; and only amuses your Mind, instead of enlightening it, if it does not move your Heart and Passions, however florid and pompous it may be, it is not truly eloquent. TulL Y approves of PLATO's Sentiments on this Point; and tells us * that the whole * Lib. I. Drift and Force of a Discourse shou'd tend lib. 11. to move those secret Springs of Action that S. 82. Nature has plac'd in the Hearts of Men. Wou'd you then consult your own Mind to know whether those
hear be truly
eloquent? If they make a lively Imprefsion upon you, and gain your Attention
and Assent to what they say; if they move * See Lon-and animate your Passions, so as to * raise ginusg.vij. you above yourself, you may be affur’d
they are true Orators. But if instead of affecting you thus, they only please or divert you, and make you admire the Brightness of their Thoughts, or the Beauty and Propriety of their Language, you may freely pronounce them to be mere Declaimers.
B. Stay a little, Sir, if you please, till I ask you a few more Questions.
A. I wish I cou'd stay longer, Gentlemen; for your Conversation is very engaging : but I have an Affair to dispatch which will not admit of Delay. Tomorrow I will wait on you again : and then we shall finish this Subject at our lei
B. Adieu, then, Sir, till To-morrow.
Τ Η Ε
OU are extreinely kind,
bly instructive, that we long'd impatiently to hear you again upon the same Subject.
C. For my part, I made what Haste I cou'd, lest I shou'd have come too late : For, I was unwilling to lose any part of
A. Such Conferences are very useful, among those who really love Truth, and talk with Temper: for then they exchange their best Thoughts, and express thein as clearly as they can. As for myself, Gentleinen, I find an Advantage in conversing with you; seeing you are not displeas'd at the Freedoin I take.
B. Let us leave off Compliments, Sir; I know best how to judge of myself: and